A call for a fair, open government

OUTGOING Ombudsman Connie Lau Yinhing (劉燕卿) has called on the government to provide the public with more information when it comes to important policies and legislation.
Lau finished her five-year term and retired in late March, after spending four decades at two of the city’s watchdogs – the Consumer Council (消費者委員會) and Ombudsman (申訴專員).
She believes information is vital to the citizens’ understanding and confidence, and that the government should provide more information to the public when it comes to important policies.
“Besides informing the public of the facts, it should conduct more promotions, especially on issues people cannot easily understand,” she said. “Don’t do a public consultation when it’s too late. It should be part of the consideration when they think up the plan.”
Lau also pushed for legislation for public access to information. Currently, there is a code that guides departments in providing the public with information. However, it is not legally binding.
She said departments usually grant public requests for information once her office intervenes, but there are exceptions as well such as the Housing Society (房屋協會) refusing to divulge a full list of advisers who helped research the feasibility of building housing on the outskirts of country parks.
Lau was succeeded by Winnie Chiu Wai-yin (趙慧賢), the first female deputy commissioner of police.

(This article is published on Junior Standard on 04 April 2019)

‘Access to information’ consultation paper

Open data and government transparency